Brisbane road tunnels celebrate milestones
Brisbane road tunnels celebrate milestones Dec 2009
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
Brisbane announced on Monday (December 7, 2009) the three short listed consortia qualified to bid on the 5km Northern Link tunnel - the third of four tunneling projects to ease serious traffic congestion in the Queensland capital (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Proposed Northern Link alignment

The short listed teams are:
Northern Direct, comprised of Bouygues of France, the UK's Laing O'Rourke, and Transfield of Australia;
Transcity led by Spanish builder Acciona SA, Brisbane-based developers BMD Constructions, and Italy's Ghella;
LBRJV made up of Australia's Leighton, Baulderstone, and France's Razel;
The teams will have until May 2010 to complete detailed and fully-costed bids from which the Brisbane City Council will chose a preferred bidder.
Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said he is excited by the diversity of the short listed teams. "We have bid teams with representatives from France, Spain, Italy, the UK, the USA and Germany, coupled with leading Australian companies responsible for delivering major infrastructure both locally and abroad," he said. The 4.7km tunnel will be excavated under some of Brisbane’s most exclusive communities. The link includes surface and underground works with the tunnels being excavated using cut-and-cover, TBM and drill+blast methods.
Newman said Northern Link, from the Western Freeway to the Inner City Bypass, was on track for construction to start two years ahead of schedule, in 2010 instead of 2012. "We are working hard to get this tunnel open in 2014, rather than its scheduled opening date of 2016," he said.
“In addition to easing traffic congestion in Brisbane it is anticipated that this project will also provide 5,000 jobs and generate $10.5 billion in economic benefits to Brisbane.”
Northern Link is the fourth project in the TransApex system of roads bridges and tunnels that will form an inner city ring road around Brisbane’s Central Business District. Other new projects in the system include the Go Between Bridge from South Brisbane to Milton; the CLEM7 tunnel from Woolloongabba to Bowen Hills; the Airport Link tunnel from Toombul to Bowen Hills and the East-West Link from Buranda to Toowong.
TBM arrives for Airport Link
Last week (December 2, 2009), the first of two Herrenknecht TBMs arrived in Brisbane to begin excavation on the 6.7km Airport Link (Fig 2). The mostly underground toll road will be the first major motorway linking Brisbane city to the northern suburbs and the airport precinct. The TBMs will excavate the twin 5.1km TBM tunnels.

Fig 2. Airport Link alignment

Project Director Gordon Ralph for concessionaire BisConnections said the EPBM would encounter soft ground conditions with a mix of rock, sand and gravel as it starts its drive from Kalinga Park in Clayfield. "The first 200m of the excavation will be the most critical of the project’s tunneling program, when the TBM bores through soft ground as it travels west to Chalk Street in Lutwyche."
Contractor Thiess/John Holland JV will assemble the first machine in January to begin tunnelling operations in May 2010. The second identical TBM will arrive in March 2010 to start tunnelling two months after the first machine. A continuous conveyor system will transport a total of 0.5 million/m3 of muck to a handling station located 2km from the Kalinga Park site.
"Use of the conveyor system allows us to remove a significant number of truck movements from the road network, which is a great outcome to minimize disruption for the surrounding community," said Ralph.
BrisConnections with financial partner Macquarie Capital Group and lead designers Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff, was awarded the design-build contract for the total $5 billion PPP project in May 2008.
Last month (November 2009), the project marked the one year anniversary of the official start of construction. According to the concessionaire the project employs 2,000 workers on nine major worksites.
The congestion busting project will also use 16 roadheaders on other tunnelled reaches of the project. This is the largest number of roadheaders to be used on an Australian project to date. Ten of the machines are already operating 24 hours a day. Roadheader excavation has progressed about 400m in the northbound tunnel and 150m in the southbound tunnel. Above ground 25 piling and drill rigs and 26 cranes are employed on the project.
  • Pic 12

    TBM launch box site at Kalinga Park

  • Pic 12

    Roadheader excavation at the Kedron site

In the coming weeks the Aus$45 million TBM will be lowered into the 106m long x 20m deep Kalinga Park launch box for assembly.
In addition to the Airport Link, the PPP project includes construction of the Northern Busway from Windsor to Kedron and the Airport Roundabout. Together the three constitute the largest road infrastructure project in Australia. The Northern Busway includes a 1.5km tunnel from Truro Street, surfacing at the new, state-of-the-art Lutwyche and Kedron Brook busway stations (Fig 3). As of December 7, 2009 roadheader excavation had progressed more than 700m northbound and southbound from the Truro Street site.
Pic 12

Fig 3. Northern Busway alignment

Clem7 Tunnel nearing completion
Upon completion in 2012, the Airport Link will be the longest road tunnel in Australia. It will mark the completion of the M7 motorway and unlock the full potential of the new Clem Jones Tunnel (CLEM7) project, which is almost finished (Fig 4). By early December, 90% of the 6.8km toll road with its twin 4.8km long two-lane tunnels under the river was complete and the works on track to finish eight months ahead of schedule.
Pic 12

Fig 4. CLEM7 tunnel and connecting roads

To celebrate, the city is conducting free weekend bus tours of the tunnel to mid-January 2010.
Tunnelling operations on the CLEM7 project(formerly known as the North-South Bypass Tunnel) ended with the hole through at Wooloongabba of the second Herrenknecht TBM on 26 April 2009. The two 12.4m diameter TBMs, named Matilda and Florence, each excavated a total 4.3km through hard rock under the Central Business District and the Brisbane River. The machines worked over a period of 17 and 13 months respectively and delivered excavation rates as high as 34m/day. Eight roadheaders worked on the project to excavate on-and off-ramps, mergers, cross passages and the starter tunnels. The Maunsell/Parsons Brinckerhoff JV is lead designer on the project with geotechnical engineering by Golder Associates.
The tunnel entrances are taking shape with installation of the three architecturally designed canopies in Kangaroo Point, Woollongabba and Bowen Hills almost complete. Designed by EDAW AECOM, the entrance canopies provide a transition between the light inside and outside of the tunnels, allowing the eyes of drivers to adjust to the driving environment.
The RiverCity Motorway consortium won a 45-year concession to build and operate the Clem7 toll highway in 2006, and awarded design and construction of the tunnel to the JV or Leighton Contractors, Baulderstone Hornibrook and Blifinger Berger. Construction of the Aust $3 billion toll road began in September 2006.
  • Pic 12

    CLEM7 final breakthrough May 2009

  • Pic 12

    Tunnel entrance canopy at Kangaroo Point

"The tunnel is not supposed to be ready until October but RiverCity Motorway tells me they are on track for it to open in early 2010," said Brisbane’s Mayor Campbell Newman. "Workers are now focused on the tunnel's mechanical and electrical fit out. They are installing wall panelling and have just finished the last of the three massive tunnel portal canopies." The project’s two TBMs excavated more than 1.3 million tonnes of rock and installed 19,000 tunnel-lining segments. The tunnel consists of 308,000 tonnes of concrete segments, 192km of electrical cable, 120 jet fans, 166 emergency phones and about 2,000 lights.
The Clem 7 tunnel will cut some 30% on travel times from Woolloongabba to Bowen Hills by allowing motorists to bypass 24 sets of traffic lights. In the overall masterplan, the project is a linchpin on which the other sections of new highway infrastructure - much of it in tunnel - will connect to ease current congestion in the city and prepare Brisbane for future economic growth and prosperity.
Herrenknecht makes it four for Brisbane - TunnelTalk, Aug 2008
Brisbane awards airport highway tunnel link - TunnelTalk, May 2008
Northern Link
Clem7 Link
Airport Link

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